To transport yourself back to the tropics, try this grilled Huli Huli Chicken dinner, made with a minimum of everyday pantry ingredients.
Aloha my friends! As the story goes: “In 1955, Ernest Morgado, a Honolulu businessman, served a group of farmers grilled chicken that had been marinated in his mother’s teriyaki-style sauce. It was such a hit that he decided to market it with the name “huli huli.” Huli means “turn” in Hawaiian and refers to how it’s prepared: grilled between two racks and turned halfway through cooking.”
This simplified version from NY Times Cooking calls for chicken pieces and a standard grill. The original recipe is a trade secret, but you can find many slightly different variations on the internet, most all containing ginger, garlic, soy sauce, something sweet (honey, brown sugar or maple syrup) and something acidic (vinegar, white wine, lime juice or pineapple juice).
This recipe is adapted from “Aloha Kitchen: Recipes from Hawai‘i” by Alana Kysar. It also works beautifully with boneless chicken thighs, but adjust your cooking time accordingly.
We deconstructed a whole chicken, ending up with unused body parts (back, neck, etc.) for our “body bag” of poultry pieces kept in the freezer for making homemade chicken stock. To add another layer of flavor, grill some pineapple slices. Buy them already sliced, and grill for about 3-4 minutes each side with a bit of the marinade brushed on.
To complete the meal, spoon some warmed baked beans onto your plate.
Huli Huli Chicken
- ½ cup ketchup
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup packed light or dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated
- 3½ to 4 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces
- Grapeseed or canola oil, for brushing the grill grate
- In a large bowl or a gallon-size resealable plastic bag, combine the ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, ginger and garlic, and stir or shake until combined. Reserve and refrigerate ½ cup of the mixture for basting the chicken later.
- Add the chicken to the remaining mixture, and stir or shake until evenly coated. If using a bowl, cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight, or at least 8 hours, turning the chicken at least once.
- When you’re ready to cook, oil your grill grates well. Heat the grill to medium (for charcoal, the grill is ready when you can hold your hand 5 inches above the coals for 5 to 7 seconds). Add the chicken to the grill, cover, and cook 25 to 35 minutes, turning every 5 minutes to keep the chicken from burning, and basting it with the reserved marinade after you turn it, until cooked through. (Cook times will vary depending on sizes and cuts of chicken pieces, so be sure to check for doneness: Meat should not be pink and the juices should run clear.)
- When the chicken is pretty much to temperature, move the meat to the indirect side of the grill, and place the pineapple slices over the direct heat. Baste with the marinade and cook for 3 minutes each side to show char marks. Plate with the grilled chicken.
- Serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from Alana Kysar for NYTimes Cooking